Saturday, 13 December 2014

Concept art for the 'The Reel'

'The Reel' is a third year project that I am fortunate enough to have been asked to a concept artist for. The project aim is to create a series of impressive 3D short clips showcasing the 3rd years' skills for their showreels. The art of Monkey Island was a big design influence for the project, thus I was keen to work in that style and to have the opportunity to practice as a concept artist.
I get most of my briefs and feedback from Oly Bromley and Ben Wardle who are two of the 3rd years working on 'The Reel'.

Here's a showcase of the work I've done so far on this project:

One of the first concept pieces I did - trying out a few different variations on jungle plants. The first and second from the left were the most preferred styles. 

Some attempts at trees, I'm not happy with how these turned out but they were a stepping stone in my learning process. The feedback I received was that these trees were too dead and dry looking, and so I tried again... 

Selection of palm trees. Oly had wanted me to try more stylized shapes and gave me some reference art images that really helped me start developing a style.

Another attempt at trees, you can see that I didn't have much experience drawing trees. I also struggled a bit with the concept of drawing props that could be sculpted in 3D so I was a bit lost about what to do about leaves - in this piece I tried simplifying them too much.

Some Mayan - influenced ruins. These were much more up my street and I enjoyed working on them. As part of this project I've realised I need to learn to draw a lot faster.

More Mayan ruins. I think the head on the right isn't very successful and I should've looked at more references. The other 3, although simple are a lot more effective.

Concept piece for a shot. I like how this turned out, I'm waiting on any feedback and changes that might need doing on this piece. 

Line art for the second shot concept. It was difficult to start doing whole scenes but I'm pleased with how this turned out. Again, there may be changes that need doing to this piece.

Shaded version. I need to do some practise on lighting - I wanted the immediate foreground very dark and for the general foreground to be contrasted by the sun and background. I'll see what feedback I get as to how to improve, whilst in the meantime I'll read up on lighting since it very important.

Coloured version. I struggled a lot to find an interesting colour palette (I'll have to read up on colour theory too). I began with purples and oranges and then decided I wanted a hazy blue background and went from there. I had some reference pieces to help as well. 
From this project so far I have realised I need to work faster and improve on lighting and colour. It's been a great opportunity so far and hopefully I'll be able to create much more work for the project. It's very cool to be able to see my 2D concepts recreated in 3D.

Monday, 8 December 2014

...and more lifedrawing

Defining the figure using light and dark shapes, I think I made some good process on the legs, but as always I need to work on the head and arms (hands especially).

Drawing with my non-dominant hand (left). This was interesting as I had to spend a lot of time looking at the figure and then calculating where on the page to place the points. Very slow though.

More shading - I like the extreme black shadows as they create some interesting shapes, also the rendering turned out well on the thigh.

Some quick warm up sketches.

Sunday, 30 November 2014

Alphabet Patch Pitch

We had the opportunity to do a pitch presentation of our ideas to writer James Henry.
Below is my pitch of Alphabet Patch:

My idea is called 'Alphabet Patch'. It's an educational tv series for pre-school children, teaching the alphabet and encouraging kids to explore the natural world. It follows a garden gnome and his animal friends as they play in their garden home.
I'm proposing 24 x 15 minute [James Henry commented that 5 minute episodes would be more appropriate] episodes.

Here are two of the main characters - Dotty a curious lady bug and Mrs Beanie, a curious but silly chicken who provides lots of comedy.

Now here is the main character Paddy, he's a garden gnome and 'the voice of reason' and leader within the garden - similar to Shaun from 'Shaun the Sheep'.
Norman the cat is one of the many characters in the show who doesn't speak, instead just meowing in a way kids will love to mimic.

Here's a turn around of Paddy showing how the characters work in a 2D cutout style.

There will be 24 episodes in the first series with each episode based on a letter of the alphabet (XYZ in one final episode together). 
The bee here is a special character for the second episode 'B'. As you can see it is shaped like the letter B and it also makes a "BBBBBBBBB" sound when it flies. 
Sound is very important for this series, with lots of fun sounds for kids to mimic and learn through repetition.

Topics for the episodes include berries as above...

... plants and insects; weather; outdoor activities...

... types of trees and so on.

This design for the episode 'T' shows how all the trees are shaped as 'T's.

There are also 'baddies'! Naughty characters that are fun for kids to watch. These will be garden pests that eat, steal, play tricks and leave slime everywhere...

For example, Cecil the snail. He doesn't mean to be naughty but he just can't help eating! 

Viola the squirrel has fun playing tricks on the other animals.

A concept piece for episode 'T', in which Paddy and Dotty learn about trees. Quirky things such as Paddy flying using a sycamore helicopter and Viola throwing acorns at other animals mean kids have a fun way to learn.

11 Second Club

This month I worked on an animation for the 11 Second Club competition. I learnt a lot from this project, especially as we had animator Billy Allison as a guest at the university for 3 days. Asides from giving us lectures on how to use TV Paint he also gave great animation advice during studio time. A particularly useful tip he explained was easing in and out by arranging inbetweens so that they are not necessarily midway between keys.

As this animation was very much about learning for me I don't feel it looks wonderful but I had a chance to apply some of the techniques I was learning. I'm really looking forward to receiving feedback on the 11 Second Club website.

The 11 Second Club competition involves animating a performance piece to an 11 second sound clip. The main focus is on performance - hence the rough finish. I tried to create strong key poses although I think the characters move around too much and perhaps I should employ stronger pauses in future. My timing still needs work as this something I have always struggled with.

More life drawing

Here are some pieces I did from 2 life drawing sessions.

Exercises in ink, capturing quick poses. Recently I am drawing inspiration from Bill Plympton's work and I would love to try to animate something using exaggerated bodies. I saw his film 'Cheatin'' at the Annecy Festival in June and thought it was beautiful.

Some good rendering in this piece but overall I need to work on placing the figure within a 3d space that works realistically.

An ink portrait. Didn't turn out how I envisioned but I like how it is reminiscent of Vrubel's paintings and so I am happy with this piece although in future I should try different styles (more measured).

The proportions went out the window with this drawing but I like the technique. I added the background just to make the piece clearer. I really like the arm closest to the viewer and the shoulders and neck. I have been trying to practice more how the head connects to the body and I feel like I learnt something from this piece in that area.

Blocked out figure (apologies for the bad photo). I am getting awful at proportions, next time I should apply myself to getting the proportions right.

Classic pose. As I said, I am trying to spend more time on heads and necks.

I like this piece, the rear looks almost 3D, I think this technique of lighting is pretty effective - using extreme dark and then white highlights and areas of rendered colour.

Some more quick poses. I think I'm getting better at these, I am really drawing a lot of inspiration from Bill Plympton and worrying less about creating measured pieces but rather emotional and communicative pieces.

Monday, 27 October 2014

Alphabet Patch - First Concept!

One of the main projects for this semester is called the 'Cards Project'. We were assigned 4 random cards at the beginning of this project - the cards give you an artist, a theme, characters and a location.
I received:

Artist - Agata Dudek
Theme - children's pre-school
Characters - letters of the alphabet
Location - allotment

To begin with I was not pleased with my cards as I had never considered doing pre-school animation before but I have since become very excited about this project as I'm getting to try something different. Eventually we are to make a design bible for our concept but so far I have just begun by exploring my initial concept for the animated series and have done some experimental character designs.

I have  come up with an idea called 'Alphabet Patch', it's an animated series of episodes 15 minutes in length aimed at pre-schoolers. It's an educational program designed to teach children the alphabet and about the natural world. 

Above is the title for my series that I designed as inspired by the work of Agata Dudek.

Here are the first character designs I did, working closely with the style of my artist. I wanted the garden gnome not to be typical so I spent a lot of time experimenting. I want the character to be recognizable as a garden gnome but not just the same as always.
There is also a fat cat which I really like as I was getting to grips more with the art style.

Here are 3 of the main characters I designed - first the snail who is the 'bad guy' although he doesn't mean to be, he adds interest to the program. Next is Dotty the ladybug, she is curious and together with the gnome explores the garden learning new things. Finally is Mrs Beanie, she is a chicken and also curious, however she is not very smart or quick witted and acts as a comedic element in the program.

I have not developed the idea very far yet but I am really excited to keep working on this project, I have ideas to make this a stop motion animation but I will have to experiment with the art style some more. I find the art style fun to work in (much more exciting than usual and quicker to express myself with). I've started doing a lot of research into children's TV shows too, especially the 'classics' such as Pingu, The Clangers, Sooty and Sweep, Bill and Ben the FlowerPot Men etc as I would like my animation to have the same charm as these.

Funny in 15

This week I finished working on my Funny in 15 group project.
I worked as producer, background artist, character designer, art director, clean up artist and compositor on the project. I worked with Katie Wyman who worked as director, animator, sound effects person, voice actor, assistant clean up artist, animatic and storyboarding. Abhishekh Shivayogi was 3D modeller and 3D animator.

I think this was successful project in many ways and I learnt a great deal from it, not least of all learning how to use new animation software TV Paint. 
I really like working in this software, although I have only learnt the basics so far. It is ideal for creating more artistic and fluid animation than Flash, and the tools are much more animation based and focused. Also, we had to work out how to put 2D and 3D together, and although I encountered lots of problems in the compositing stage I can avoid them in future projects.

Above - final Funny in 15 animation
Things I would like to improve include the water in shot 2 coming from the bow of the boat, I think this should be cleaner and more fluid. Also, I ended up putting the water in frame by frame and was running out of time so in some parts it is quite rough (hopefully it is not too noticeable). In general though I am very happy with how this animation turned out, especially as it involved learning a bunch of new skills and really challenging myself.

One of the backgrounds I made using Photoshop. I like how we managed to blend a number of different styles together in this animation.

And below are the layouts I made for the project using concept art and designs I drew in Photoshop. These were very handy when it came to animating as we had 2 main animators - one working in 2D and one in 3D so everyone had to be clear on exactly were key poses needed to be.

 I did a previous blog post whilst I was working on the character and prop designs, which you can see here.

Thursday, 9 October 2014

Skills pitch / showreel

On Wednesday I pitched my skills to the 3rd Years on my course in order to be enlisted as crew on some of their projects. Here's the showreel I made as part of my pitch.
Reflecting on this showreel now I feel as though I really need to start pushing myself more this year to develop in one area particularly and become less of an all-rounder. I'm not sure how keen I am on just doing design work - I'm much more interested in storyboarding. I am also thinking that I need to define my work and myself as more individual and to follow more of my own projects in order to achieve this development.

Sunday, 5 October 2014

'Caught' - Animatic and storyboard

Here's the animatic I made for about 1 minute of a short animated film concept I have. It is called 'Caught' and tells the story of a freedom-loving fisherwoman who falls in love with a crane that lives on an isolated island. It's quite an abstract story and is an artistic expression of a relationship that begins and ends. If it is made, I feel it could work well in stop-motion. 

I feel uncomfortable working out the timing in animatics, whilst I am happy making storyboards. This is quite a big issue to have as an animator so I will need to overcome it by practicing more!
Below is the storyboard I made for this project.

I like the above panel in particular as I feel it is quite dynamic with the bird swimming towards the camera and diving under the water.